Gallup Police Department’s narcotics division held a press conference March 9 to discuss the state of the illegal drug trade in Gallup and those caught in the act of trafficking narcotics to the masses.
Director of Narcotics Lt. Billy Padavich discussed some busts his team has engaged in recent months with help of patrol officers and detectives.
“I know that a lot of times the community is wondering what is going on with the department, whether we are doing something to crack down on the drug activity in the area,” he said. “We’ve been really busy – extremely busy. There’s a lot we can’t talk about but I wanted to throw out some of the solved cases, those that we can, at this time.”
Padavich explored several stings they had performed over the past few months.
Alleged cocaine dealer Frederick Nelson Billie had been booked Feb. 8 with intent to traffic and for a second DWI. No other details were released.
“Methamphetamine we have started seeing more of,” Padavich said. “It’s nowhere near the level of what other cities see, but we are aware of it. We’ve been starting to see a little bit of cocaine and heroin, not too much, thank goodness.”
Most of the time criminals are netted easily during sting operations. But not everything always goes according to plans.
“On Feb. 27 our undercover narcotics detectives set up a buy op in relation to a suspect Delilah Miles. We had been working this case for a while. She called to a location to do the pickup at a vehicle, which was parked,” he said.
Padavich explained that as the undercover detective arrived on scene, Miles was spooked at the last minute for unknown reasons and tried to escape, but the detectives caught her in her vehicle.
They found enough drugs and had already acquired enough evidence to book her for possession of methamphetamine with the intent to traffic. Padavich reiterated that he was very pleased with the operation and that his narcotics detectives had done a great job. Miles remains in custody as of March 16.
Padavich outlined the recent bust of John Paradise and Darrell Desiderio on March 3. The Gallup Sun covered the capture of the infamous felons in last week’s issue. Padavich explained that Paradise had been caught incidentally, and that Desiderio’s face had been recognized by an officer.
The director explained that Desiderio is a highly dangerous felon, who they had been tracking for some time, with two outstanding warrants for trafficking. After a search warrant was issued to gain permission to search the vehicle itself they found “baggies of heroin, a white powder consistent with cocaine and a brown powder I understand to be consistent with heroin,” Padavich said.
Paradise is still behind bars as of March 16.
Padavich mentioned several other recent successful stings including one with an Isaiah Tso who was caught with methamphetamine stashed in a stolen vehicle Feb. 27.
In another bust, Charlene Hannaweeka, who has alleged ties to Desiderio, was arrested March 3 for one count of possession of a controlled substance and use or possession of drug paraphernalia. She remains in custody as of March 16.
Desiderio was arrested for aggravated battery with a deadly weapon for stabbing Andrew Garcia in August. According to the police report, Hannaweeka handed him the knife used in the stabbing. Desiderio has a fairly lengthy rap sheet, according to New Mexico Courts case look up website.
Meanwhile, on Feb. 9, Joseph Donaldson of Gallup was arrested for possession of 5 lbs of marijuana. According to Padavich, Donaldson was cooperative and did not give the department any trouble.
The end of the first of month of the year resulted in a notable bust. Charles Martinez was arrested on Jan. 30 for methamphetamine trafficking. Allegedly, he had been trafficking meth out of the Lariat Lodge motel. He handed a packet of meth to a drug addict in front of an undercover officer, and was arrested.
Padavich wrapped the press conference up by again praising his team and the other wings of the department that assisted with these operations.
“Our whole department is incredible and we rely a lot on the patrol and detectives to pin these people down,” he said. “It’s really a team effort. I can’t say enough good things about everyone here. Our guys in narcotics are go-getters and they are working all the time to catch these guys and bring them in. I have the best people, I’m very lucky.”
By Naomi Mercedes Chan